As a stager/decorator by profession and a mom/homemaker by calling, I have come to believe home should be two things: personal and beautiful. And I don’t think I’m alone in this, am I? Personal because there is something so powerful about creating a space that is unique to the family who lives there, which is different than anywhere else. A personal home with the faces of those who live there smiling at us from the walls; memories captured through displayed items from our parents’ childhoods or our family vacations; colors and textures that we love and connect to, allowing us to exhale when this world seems too much. That’s a valuable space, is it not? And then we try to get this personal touch in ways that also seem beautiful to our eye. Let’s go ahead and acknowledge that it matters! “Personal and beautiful” is way more appealing than “personal and ugly,” right??
But you know, I wish I could add one more word. I want add the word “imperfect.” It takes the pressure off, I think. It lessens the burden of having to come up with something exact. It gives us the freedom to use grandma’s old chair in our living room even if it’s dinged up or the leg was glued back on three times. It allows us to use what we have and already love, which means we decorate with our child’s artwork because that makes us smile more than the prettiest picture in Target’s aisles. It’s the space where we breathe…and I think imperfection matters because it gives those who live there permission to be the same thing: imperfect. Because we are, you know. And home should be, at its best, a reflection of us.
The connection between a woman and her home is strong, isn’t it? It houses her beloveds who dwell there, and we are all fiercely protective of that crew. But there is often tension between a woman and her home, because it’s also the place that never seems to keep up with social media, that taunts our rest with endless piles of laundry, and can sometimes feel more like a place to be trapped than a place to relax and be deeply known. I know there are many who feel frustration toward it because they know they want beauty and warmth but don’t know how to get it. There are others who wreck their family’s budget because the things they have aren’t bringing contentment, because comparison is the thief of joy. There are others who don’t have the time/money/bandwidth to be concerned about its beauty during this season of life, but who wish that home would be able to give them a warm squeeze when they walk in the door at the end of a long day. And I hope, even though the group may be small, that there is a collection of women who would raise their hands to say that on good days, they are able to stand somewhere in the middle of all that.
Mamas/women/warriors/brave-hearts/comforters/trailblazer, may I encourage you for a moment? You will never need to use what you don’t have to create your home. Home isn’t this illusive thing you will someday have the money to buy, or someday have the pretty things to fill, or someday discover the talent for. Home is the place where you are; where your family lives. Home is the building that we fill with what we have, with what we love, and with what we use. Home is “personal, beautiful, and imperfect.” And we each get to decide what those things are to us. It doesn’t depend on what you can buy in the stores. It isn’t determined by the trend we see in pictures. And it certainly doesn’t cost us all we have- or more. It can be found in soft blankets and items you grew up with, or the toys your babies have played with. In fact, my favorite things in my own home are the items with a story behind them.
Let me tell you how this plays out in my own home! I just redecorated my bookshelves a few weeks ago because it was time for a changeup. I was craving a shopping trip something fierce, but our household is Dave Ramsey-ing right now and so “working with what we have” is the theme hour. (All of my fellow gazelles raise your hands!) So! I shopped my home, my boxes in the garage, my closet, and I came up with things to use instead of running to the store. And I surprised again by how emotionally attached I felt as I looked at those beautiful-to-me shelves because it held the things that told our story. It was full of things we love! And things that reminded us where we’ve been…..and who we want to continue being.
You’ll see in the picture below that I used piles and piles and piles of books. To get those I just raided our bookshelves, found all the hardbacks and removed the paper covers, then stacked them with pages facing out. I used ceramic creatures from my son’s art class, Mother’s Day hand-painted ceramic coffee mugs to hold succulents, a purse I bought from a street market in Paris when my husband celebrated our 10-year anniversary, one of the Battleship boards that we bought as the family souvenir during a trip to Disney World, woven baskets at child-height holding legos and figurines and train sets. And I used pictures. So many pictures.
You know, my husband and I have lived in six different homes in the last 10 years, partly because of the US Navy and partly because of the adventurous spirits within us. And I have come to really treasure the things we own, as opposed to the building we live in, because those are the things that we take with us from building to building. And I have had to fight this lie pop culture tells us that says we have to buy something new, or that our house (or ourselves) has to look a certain way to be beautiful, all because of the thing that’s really at the root of all that fuss- the desire to be enough.
A whole, separate blog post could dig down through all of this to tackle the chains of discontentment and self-worth, which I believe are the real enemies in our pursuit of creating a “personal, beautiful, imperfect home” in a healthy way. But we’ll keep this “Chapter 1” level. And as we intentionally seek to create a home where others and ourselves feel welcomed, we will chase balance and the honoring of finances. We will honor memories we have made and dreams we have for the future. And I hope we create spaces that are free to change with us to meet our needs and be the safe place to rest when we come together to fellowship and deepen relationship. Because those things are the marrow of life, friends! They’re not just poetic words, they’re the things worth investing in!
I guess what I’m saying is that this dream of the perfect home…..this thing we all wish in our hearts that we would somehow someday capture? The secret to that is that we already have it, to some degree. And maybe you’ll be inspired to use the scarf you bought on your honeymoon to tie around the base of your lamp. And if you do, I hope it makes you smile as you remember your honeymoon every time you walk past the living room! That’s the kind of thing that makes me feel connected to where I live. But at the end of the day, home is the place that’s filled with the people you love, and with the things that provide comfort, rest, memories, and pleasure to your people as they gather and deepen relationships. That’s what a personal, beautiful, imperfect home does naturally. And as your people change and grow, your space will do the same. Because our homes should serve us, not the other way around.